Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Taking a hit for the team

At the weekend my dearest friend Amanda came to visit from Rome. We managed to sit out in the garden all afternoon and talk and talk and talk. She really has the most original mind of anyone I know. With regard to my daughter's death, she said, 'Don't you think there is a sense in which you are taking a hit for the team?' I didn't really know what that meant but she explained to me that it's an American baseball phrase. Apparently, it refers to when the person who is meant to be hitting the ball gets hit by the ball instead (often very hard). Initially, I didn't understand what she meant but then she said, 'The point is that if seventeen babies are stillborn in the UK every day then the fact that you had one of those babies is actually really good for everyone else. It means that there is some other person out there who doesn't have to have a still born baby. So you are taking a hit for the team.' The thought was an odd one but I do think she's got a point. However, we both of us agreed that the idea only works if 'the team' does exist. In other words it only works if all the people around me offer me lots of love and support because they acknowledge that actually I'm doing something wonderful for them. Of course, I do know people who are offering me love and support (thanks Amanda, thanks Joslin, thanks everyone at the Quaker Meeting House). But there are many people who are just hiding from me because they feel guilty and embarrassed. They should really change their approach. They should come up to me and say, 'Let me offer you any help and support that I can because I'm so, so grateful to you for doing this. Because you're doing it, I am not having to do it. Thank you very much.' This all sounds mad, I know, but I don't think it is.


Tash said...

I don't really feel this personally, but I often wonder if others look at me and exhale and thank the stars that *I* took the statistical bullet (or the hit for the team, or beat the odds)because what are the chances that THEY'LL go through the same thing now that they know someone personally who did?

Wish I was confident enough to know I wouldn't take the hit, AGAIN.

Melissia said...

Dear Alice,
I have to respectfully disagree. As a retired labor and delivery nurse I think that stillbirths, at least here in the US, are a vastly under researched disease. We don't know what causes the majority until after and don't adequately screen for risk factors, as we don't really recognize many of them. While it would be nice to think that your suffering spared another family, conversely, that would mean that every family with a new baby reduced your chances of having another child. I cannot imagine a crueler thought.
My thoughts have been with you as you go through these early IVF days.

B said...

If it's a helpful thought for you, then great. If it's not, then put it aside. What else is there to do?

Some people really are terrified to talk to people who have had bereavements. They don't know what to say and are scared you will break down and they may have to confront their own fears.

I am reluctant to post this next comment for fear it sounds cruel; please realise I don't mean it that way. But I spent time today with a friend who will almost certainly never have a child of her own. All she has ever wanted is to have children but the chances of it ever happening are minuscule. You have a child; I can't imagine how painful it must have been to lose so many children, but don't lose sight of the fact that you do have one child of your own. My friend's husband won't consider adoption, either, so the main goal in her life is taken away, and she is struggling to know how to fill that void. It's so hard to know what to say to comfort her, or you. At the end of the day though there is nothing really, is there? You can only be there to support people when they need it. I hope you have plenty of people to support you.

I think I followed you over from Caroline Smailes' blog - sorry to start with such a potentially contentious viewpoint. Also enjoying your writing blog.